Something different—excerpts from Waiting for Westmoreland (WFW) mashed up with blog posts from here. Or, in this case, from an unpublished story. Why, you may ask? It came to me in exercising on a treadmill one day—in the water. It’s an experiment–please tell me what you think.
Explore the shift in consciousness/perspective from 2007, when WFW was first published. Or better, the 10th anniversary edition from 2017. From memoir to fiction—scene to scene. Places and time. Events or feelings. Those posts, some of them, will wind up in a collection—maybe novella length. Something in the writing will link the WFW excerpt and the post—perhaps subtle, perhaps not. You will find it.
From WFW, Chapter 13 — Love and Death, Here and There
Finally, on June 13, 1970, Jill and I went on our long-awaited first date, a Neil Diamond concert at the Minneapolis Auditorium. I picked her up at her home, still wondering whether I should be doing this and why she had picked me out of a university crowd. Despite my doubts, I couldn’t help being excited about it anyway. Nearly to the open car door, she turned back to wave goodbye to her husband Dave, an average-looking guy perhaps a few years older than she or I. He was standing in the doorway, leaning down a little to get a look at me, waiting behind the wheel. It would be 2:30 a.m. before I brought her home. While the agreement with Dave did not extend to sleepovers, apparently it didn’t preclude wild sex. In the face of my earlier self-doubts, Jill assured me that I had nothing to fear in future amorous adventures with women. How encouraging.
Then it was on to a summer of sex. It was the best sex I had ever had, not that I had had so much sex by the age of 23.
I even got comfortable going out together with both Dave and Jill or spending time with them at their home. Not that we all went to bed together, since none of us were into group sex. We all went to Wisconsin one weekend, to visit her family, including her parents, brother and sister. They introduced me as a friend of the family, which, of course, by then I was.
Life was good, too good. It had never been so good. Five years later, when I first heard the Brian Ferry sing, “Love is the drug,” my time with Jill immediately came to mind. Like a drug, my attachment to Jill was an intoxicating addiction. It left me in a state of withdrawal when I didn’t get my fix and made me willing to do whatever I had to, to get it. I surrendered control of my heart and my life to Jill, playing by her rules, keeping nothing of myself in reserve.
In October, Jill gave me the news, over coffee at Coffman Union. “It’s over,” she said.
“What do you mean, over?”
“I’m leaving Dave.”
“So,” I began, optimistically “Does that mean you’ll be spending more time with me?”
“No. It means I need space to consider what I really want, what I really need.”
“OK. So where does that leave us?”
“There is no us. There is you and there is me. If I continued seeing you now, it would remind me of Dave. It just wouldn’t work.”
“So, you’re leaving him and me.”
“Yes. We’ve had some great times together, which I will always treasure, but all good things must end. This is the end.”
“Don’t worry, John, there will be other women after me,” she said as she stood up to walk away.
I sat in shock at the table. I had put too much of myself into our relationship. Jill had left me bleeding raw, ripping away the tendrils of heart and soul I had foolishly attached to her. Jim Morrison’s voice ran through my head, singing the Doors slow dirge, “The End.”
From The Vacation of My Life, the opening pages. [Target publication now in 2021].
Sam left the building in a daze. How could I have done that? How could I forget all that? I’ve got to call Melanie, maybe she knows something. Plopping down on a transit bench, he speed dialed Melanie. If anybody knew him, it was Melanie.
Melanie picked up on the third ring, “Sam, why are you calling me again? I told you it’s over—now stop calling me!” she said, hissing into the phone as she clicked off.
No, no—not Melanie too! Sam immediately redialed.
Surprisingly, Melanie answered again, “Call me again and I will get a restraining order!” Melanie screamed.
“Wait, don’t hang up—please. Whatever I did, I’m sorry. But I don’t know what I did. I just went to my office and found out I got fired. They said I did some crazy stuff; stuff that didn’t make sense. I don’t remember any of it.”
“What—are you kidding? Are you trying to say you have amnesia, or is this some kind of line?”
“No, it’s not some kind of line. I woke up late this morning; my alarm didn’t go off. I couldn’t find my building pass. When I got to work and asked for a temporary ID, the guard at the desk couldn’t find me in the employee directory. He put me through to Bob Jackson. He said they fired me on the spot at a staff meeting after I called the CEO an idiot and urinated all over the agenda. It’s crazy! Why would I do something like that? I remember summarizing the Gibson contract at the last meeting. It comes up for renewal in July.”
“Sam, this is August.”
“What! No, it can’t be. I—don’t understand,” Sam sucked in air.
“What you did at the staff meeting isn’t any crazier than your Fourth of July stunt. I suppose you don’t remember that either?”
“No; wait—I’m still trying to get a grip on what day it is.”
“It’s Tuesday, August 4, 2015, Sam. A month after you offered the woman next to us at the fireworks $50 to help me launch your ‘trouser rocket.’ You said it would shoot off higher and brighter than any of the ones at the show,” Melanie said.
“No—no, I didn’t!” Sam gasped.
“Yes, yes you did. After she slapped you, I dragged you out of there and back to your car. I insisted you take me home immediately. When we got to my door, you actually had the nerve to want to come up. You said you would have to settle for just one booster to blast off!” Melanie snarled.
“I’m feeling sick.”
“Good. I hope you puke. I called you the next day, expecting an apology. Instead, you just laughed. Look, I’m at work—I don’t have time for this. Like I said, it’s over. You want a synopsis, look for the letter I sent you three weeks ago. Don’t call me again,” she said, hanging up.